O’DONOVAN Rossa selector Don Davis accepts that his side will comfortably be underdogs for Sunday’s SFC round 3 meeting with Nemo Rangers in Coachford (4pm), but this year’s primary aim has been achieved.
A first-round win over Aghada meant that the Skibbereen side could banish any relegation worries.
While the reigning champions will present a step up in terms of the challenge presented, Davis is looking forward to it.
‘It is probably the most difficult draw,’ he says, ‘they’re the county and Munster championsand probably feel that they left the All-Ireland behind them.
‘At the same time, they’re the team to beat and somebody has to try to do that. We’re probably in a transitional period, at the start of the year our goals were to avoid any relegation battle and to consolidate our league position.
‘We were comfortably mid-table and we deserve to play senior football. The next step is to push on and that might be something that will take a while, but we’re happy with how we’re building for the future.’
This year has been about consolidating status and growing the panel.
‘We looked at things a little differently,’ Davis says.
‘There were a lot of young fellas walking away from football and we wanted to reverse that by providing a friendly and enjoyable environment.
‘Some nights, we’ve had 35 or 40 at training – they might not all be senior footballers but this is something that we’re hoping will bear fruit in the long term.’
Unfortunately for Skibb, they have been hit with departures.
‘David Shannon is a garda now stationed in Wexford, he played for them this year,’ Davis says.
‘He’s a loss and so is Daniel Hazel, who has been on the Cork panel, he’s in the US. Then Seán Fitzgerald, who was on the Cork U20 squad, broke his collarbone recently.
‘It’s tough with losses like that but you have to play with the cards you’re given.
That game is preceded by the meeting of Valley Rovers and Clyda Rovers, which starts at 2.30pm. Meanwhile, Skibb’s neighbours Castlehaven are in action on Sunday evening, clashing with CIT in Cloughduv at 7pm.
Haven manager Liam Collins’s first championship game in charge was against the Bishopstown college in the opening round last year, a game which they won by 1-14 to 0-12. Had they lost that, they would have had a second chance but this time there is no safety-net.
‘This is probably the most dangerous round,’ Collins says.
‘If you get over this, you’re in with a chance but availability is a big thing. Ronan Walsh will be out and Conor Cahalane hasn’t been with us due to the Cork U21s. Damien, in fairness, has played a bit but he picked up a knock in the Barrs’ hurling game with Douglas, so we’re hoping he’ll be alright.
‘It’s very difficult when you don’t have your full complement. ‘You might get away with missing one or two, but if you’re down three or four it can be very tough.
‘Seán Dineen, for instance, is a farmer and, with the pressures they’re under due to the weather, we haven’t seen a lot of him. When you’ve so many out, it’s hard to prepare.
‘When you have all of the top players at training, it really lifts everything.’
The Haven will be favourites, but Collins knows that he can’t take the CIT challenge lightly.
‘Young players don’t have any fear,’ he says, ‘they just go out and play.
‘It might be a good time to play them in that they’re not back in college yet and they haven’t been together, but you can never take a team for granted.